A Texas Storyteller Laments Change

Oct 2, 2015
QuesterMark / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas raconteur WF Strong recently lamented changing times in Texas on the NPR newsmagazine Texas Standard. The former Fulbright Scholar noted that we used to stay in the truck to get gas and go inside to eat. Now we get out to pump gas and sit in the truck to eat. Only one in five Texans are rural anymore. Small farms are disappearing, replaced by commercial farms where tractors never sleep. Today teenagers are happier cruising the net than cruising around town, opined Strong.

Stephen Graham Jones

This week, the third and final finalist for the 2015 Texas Observer Short Story Contest was posted on the Observer’s website. The story, “Hands Moving Through Hair” by Rebecca Wurtz, joins the two previous selections, K.C.

JD Lamb / Texas Tribune

The Texas Nationalist Movement is attempting to get a non-binding vote onto March’s GOP primary ballot over whether Texas should secede from the United States. To reach this goal, the Nederland-based group has been circulating a petition. The group’s aim is to obtain 75,000 signatures from registered voters by Dec. 1.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Texas continues to see sales tax revenues decline. The Austin American-Statesman notes that the drop is linked to struggles in the state’s energy sector. August revenues were down .4 percent compared to the same time a year ago. Over the past six months, the state’s sales tax revenue collection has generally been slowing down.

In regional news, state and public college employees in Texas now have a new gauntlet to pass through during the hiring process, reports The Texas Tribune. As of September 1st, state hires will have their information run through a verification system managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Texas Secessionist Movement Continues Its Push

Sep 3, 2015
Glyn Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas Nationalist Movement made trips to 31 Texas cities last week to drum up support for the state’s secession from the United States, reports Reuters. The group is attempting to gather the necessary 75,000 signatures to get the question onto the primary ballot next spring.

High Plains Residents Lack Access to Abortions

Aug 24, 2015
New York Times

When it comes to abortions, High Plains residents must travel farther than almost any other US citizens, reports the New York Times.  Amarillo residents must travel 234 miles to the nearest clinic. Many denizens of the Oklahoma Panhandle and Western Kansas must likewise travel over 200 miles to have the service performed. The national average outside Texas is 59 miles.

Texas Observer

The Texas Observer has reported on a new study which found that greenhouse gas emissions could cost Texas billions if left unchecked. The report, by the Risky Business Project, studied many factors, including rising energy costs and heat-related deaths. Texas is expected to be most affected by extreme heat and rising sea levels. Hot temperatures could have a debilitating effect on agriculture, and the encroaching ocean will lead to significant property damage.

Creative Commons

Texans are being asked to curb their electric usage as demand has reached record-breaking levels, reports The Texas Tribune. The operator of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which covers most of the state, is asking Texas consumers to use less electricity wherever possible.

Wikimedia Commons

Of regional interest, The Pampa News has published an interesting story about Peter Gray, for whom Gray County in West Texas is named. Gray was a lawyer in Houston in 1847, when he agreed to take the case of Emeline, a freed black woman who had been forced into slavery.

Texas Debates Plan to Battle Future Droughts

Jul 28, 2015
Cynthia Mendoza / Flickr Creative Commons

The current drought in Texas began in 2010. Though the situation has improved somewhat, the drought is still with us—and so are the conditions that caused it, reports StateImpact, a reporting project of local public media and NPR.

Scott Davidson / Flickr Creative Commons

The Texas radio news magazine Texas Standard has published a list of “10 Things about The Sandra Bland Traffic Stop That Every Texan Should Know."

Bland was arrested on July 10, and charged with assaulting a public servant. She was later found dead in her cell. Investigations were launched by the FBI and the Texas Rangers.

12 Facts You Might Not Know About "Lonesome Dove"

Jul 23, 2015
Bill Wittliff / Wittliff Collections, Texas State University

Did you know that Lonesome Dove was originally supposed to star Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne? Or that the novel’s movie rights were purchased by Motown?

KUT’s Texas news program Texas Standard has posted a fascinating list of “12 Things You Might Not Know About ‘Lonesome Dove’.” Give it a look to find out what former action star was originally supposed to play the role of Blue Duck.

Dan Dzurisin / Creative Commons

Caprock Canyons boasts a unique feature that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, reports The Canyon News. The herd of bison there is the last remaining true herd, genetically identical to the buffalo that roamed the plains before the animals were almost completely decimated at the end of the 19th century. The bison in the park are the direct descendants of the herd Charles Goodnight’s started in 1878.

Abbot Campaign Takes in Massive Nine-Day Haul

Jul 19, 2015
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Potential challengers to Governor Greg Abbot in the 2018 elections will be in for a fight, reports the Texas Tribune.  Last month, Abbot raised $8.3 million over a period of nine days.

In the first six months of this year, Abbot’s campaign has spent $2.5 million, leaving him with a war chest of almost $18 million dollars—a daunting sum for even the most well-heeled of opponents.

TEXAS Outdoor Musical Celebrates 50th Season

Jul 16, 2015
Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation

Robyn Ross of the Texas Observer has written a wonderful article on the 50th season of the outdoor musical TEXAS, performed each year in a 1,600-seat amphitheater in Palo Duro Canyon, southeast of Amarillo.

A Texan Weighs in on the Great Guacamole Debate

Jul 5, 2015
Nikodem Nijaki / Creative Commons

Last week The New York Times sparked a controversy about whether it was kosher to put peas in guacamole.

Missouri Shoemaker Invents Cowboy Boot Sandals

Jul 1, 2015

The website Mashable.com reports that a cobbler in Missouri has found a way to make cowboy boots more breathable for the summertime by fashioning cowboy boot sandals from old pairs of boots. These new boot sandals retain the top part of the boot—the part that surrounds the calf and ankle, but the lower part has been converted into a flip-flop.

Supreme Court to Rule onTexas Voting Rights Case

Jun 15, 2015
Todd Wiseman

The US Supreme Court has taken up a Texas voting rights case, known as Evenwel v. Abbott, reports the Texas Tribune. At issue is whether Texas voting districts fairly represent their citizens.


From Kaiser Health News:

Even in Kentucky, which championed the 2010 health care law by expanding Medicaid and running its own insurance marketplace, about half of poor people say they have heard little about the Affordable Care Act, according to a Harvard University study published Monday in Health Affairs.

Best & Worst States for Working Moms

May 6, 2015

In the world of working moms the High Plains region spans the center of a survey of equality and support for mothers to hold their own in the workplace. With Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma ranking in the mid to low range at number 24, 33 and 42 respectively as the best and worst states for working moms.

Education Bill Draws Praise & Criticism

Apr 21, 2015
Mollie Bryant

It's a double edged sword for education in Texas, Senate passed a bill that legislators say should improve educator training but critics argue that it could reduce teacher’s ability to earn to higher wages.

Senate bill 893, authored by state Senator Kel Seliger of Amarillo would allow Texas Education Agency to create an annual evaluation system that includes students’ academic performance data to measure a teacher’s effectiveness.

Looking to the Gulf to fill the Gap

Apr 16, 2015
Ivan Pierre Aguirre / The Texas Tribune

As the population of Texas continues to grow, the water level is dropping fast. Recently state lawmakers discussed the feasibility of utilizing the Gulf of Mexico as a water source for the state.

An alternative that is costly and fraught with controversy, however saltwater desalination could catch on in ways that groundwater desalination never did.

A Tornado History Lesson

Apr 10, 2015
David Drummond / David Drummond Photography

Big Texas

Mar 30, 2015
KUT.org / KUT.org

It would appear that the old adage "Everything is bigger in Texas" can now be applied to the Lone Star State itself. From NPR affiliate KUT of Austin Texas, Reporter Laura Rice, "Texas has gotten used to topping lists about booming business and population growth."

Data collected from the 2013-14 census indicates rapid growth across the state. "In a lot of cases, Texas leads a lot of the growth area statistics primarily because Texas itself is very, very large." U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Branch Chief Ben Bolender.

Default on student loans, lose your job

Feb 13, 2015

In Oklahoma and Texas, under state law, some workers could lose their jobs if they don’t repay their college loans.

Professionals in at least 22 states can lose the licensure required to do their jobs if they fall into default on their student loans, according to labor and worker’s rights advocacy group Jobs With Justice.

When it comes to who wants to be the next president, all roads seem to lead to … Texas.

There are about two dozen serious contenders for the office.  And, an uncanny number have a legitimate Texas connection reports the Texas Tribune

Some have been in the Lone Star State for just a few months, often on a campaign job.   Others were born there.  Still others were educated or lived there for a job.

Pegasus Books

Richard Parker’s newest book, Lone Star Nation, is described as a provocative and eye-opening look at the most explosive and controversial state in America, where everything is bigger, bolder—and shaping our nation’s future in surprising ways by Amazon.

Karen Olsson reviewed the book for the New York Times

She says:

Parker’s short book caters to lighter appetites: It’s a tray of Texas nibbles. Included are a capsule history of the state; personal reminiscence and travels; policy analysis; a look at the 2014 governor’s race; and man-on-the-street (or woman-in-the-Starbucks) interviews, not to mention a list of 300 famous Texans and three pages of Texas-related quotations.

Exonerations in Texas at record high

Feb 12, 2014
Caleb Bryant Miller / KUT News

Texas exonerated more people than any other state last year.

13 Texans who were wrongly convicted of crimes were officially absolved of wrongdoing in 2013, for crimes ranging from murder to drug possession. They spent a matter of months to more than a decade in prison, the Texas Tribune reports.


While the individual mandate requires ever American to have health insurance, there is a big exception to the Affordable Care Act that more and more people are taking advantage of.